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KxBurns
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13: Maud



pigwidgeon wrote:
What a change with Maud! Loving with someone with a substance abuse problem presents it's own new set of issues and obstacles. I am convinced that Clive knows, but is in denial, or is at a point where he doesn't want to deal with it and leaves it to Ginny (how sad, but she is his assistant after all). When Clive tells Ginny to board up the north wing and says "it wasn't worth maintaining a wing that would never be used again"(133), I immediately thought this must also be his view of Maud. A deteriorating part of the house that should be left alone to crumble into nothingness. I think Maud has always been a social drinker, and once Vivi left, and Clive and Ginny retreated to the attic, she gradually poured more and more, until she had a real problem. It certainly explained her bizarre behavior on Clive and Ginny's return from the entomology conference. The loneliness was too much for Maud to handle. When they find her in the library, after ignoring her for 2 days, Clive just "tutted and walked out"(111). Clearly he is aware how bad the situation is, but does not have the emotional fortitude to deal with it. On page 108, Ginny describes how to prepare the moths for Bernard's challenge, and it reminded me of Maud, "we'd need to extract the compound, a fairly simple process of emulsifying the animal with a pestle and mortar and put the resulting slurry through a series of alcoholic distillations." I saw this as a metaphor for Maud being so emotionally beat up (mortar and pestle), and then trying to fill up the emotional void with alcohol.

I also found it a sad piece of irony that Maud reads "The Ideal Home" magazine (110). I'm sure nothing in that publication can even come close to repairing the damage done in this "home". When Ginny says "A sick thrust of guilt and love and shame and overbearing failure churned through me"(111) I felt so bad. I am always saddened when children, even adult children, feel as though their parents happiness or well-being is somehow their responsibility. This is one of those things, Ginny previously spoke of, that a person learns, sometimes through only action and insinuation, when they are young, and never leaves you. That is too much responsibility for a small child, and it only grows as the child grows. Ginny feels she has to keep Maud's secret, because it was her fault to begin with, what a burden. :smileysad:

Maud and Ginny's "secret" hinges on Ginny's guilt. No matter how aggressive Maud gets, Ginny continues in her role. She has been groomed to be this way from childhood. Maud's aggression hurls emotional, and sometimes physical, abuse upon the guilt and secret-keeping (that she won't break 50 years later) Ginny already must deal with. It becomes clear that Maud's substance abuse will not be overcome.

Really well-put, pidwidgeon!
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READERJANE
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

The reference to the deswtruction of the local Brimstone population is a forshadowing of the destruction of the family's history that  has been Ginny engaged in as an adult. Ginny seems to have to have been engaged in battles of destruction all of her life. Ginny seems to be seeing the world, and all those around her as "changing in to something real". WHile change is not a bad thing in and of itself, Ginny defentely views chage as a threat.
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READERJANE
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Ginny appears to have broken with reality early in her life. She readily agrees to work with her father in response to Bernard's challenge, she totally represses what Bernard has done to her. The reader cannot be sure that what Bernard did to her was as innocent as she would have you believe.
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KxBurns
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13



kmensing wrote:

Ch. 10

Maud’s moved into the library & pretty much gone off the deep end. Alcoholic, obviously. Ginny takes responsibility. Why?

Ginny’s fear of losing time has been tracked back to this single event. Her mother asks for the time, Ginny tells her it’s 10:30 “in the morning”, and Maud lashes out at Ginny in total rage.


I think pidwidgeon gives a great explanation of why Ginny feels responsible for Maud's situation, and I would add that part of Ginny's guilt comes from knowing that she and Clive have been neglecting Maud and excluding her for some time now. It must have been pretty shocking for Ginny to not notice her mother's descent until things had gotten so very bad.
 
I'm really interested to know why Ginny is the target of so much of Maud's rage. Is it because Ginny's an easy target, or the less-favored child, or competition for Clive's attention? Or something else?
 
You make a great point about Ginny's fear of losing time! I see her resulting time paranoia as a fear of both internal and external consequences -- ending up like Maud, as well as inviting the wrath of others. Does that make sense?
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READERJANE
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

With reference to the different accounts of Maud's death from the sisters, I wonder, if at some level Vivi thinks that Ginny had a hand in Maud's death to secure her position in her fathers life ?"
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KxBurns
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Tarri wrote:
 
If I were Ginny, I definitely would not still be covering for my alcoholic mother 45 years after her death, if indeed that death was a tragic accident.   But I'm not sure that Ginny is not covering up for her or Clive's part in the fall down the stairs.  Because Ginny so respected her father, it surprises me somewhat that she is not proclaiming his goodness and Maud's problems.  I think that Ginny feels guilty, even if she is not at fault, that she could not save Maud in the end. 
 
 
Tarri, I wonder if Ginny continues to cover for Maud because she feels that keeping the secret both ennobles her and makes her superior to Vivi. I think she relishes the opportunity to have the upper hand for a change, to truly be the older sister.
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momgee
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

I think Ginny is the self-appointed family "martyr".
Kaye

KxBurns wrote:
Tarri wrote:
 
If I were Ginny, I definitely would not still be covering for my alcoholic mother 45 years after her death, if indeed that death was a tragic accident.   But I'm not sure that Ginny is not covering up for her or Clive's part in the fall down the stairs.  Because Ginny so respected her father, it surprises me somewhat that she is not proclaiming his goodness and Maud's problems.  I think that Ginny feels guilty, even if she is not at fault, that she could not save Maud in the end. 
 
 
Tarri, I wonder if Ginny continues to cover for Maud because she feels that keeping the secret both ennobles her and makes her superior to Vivi. I think she relishes the opportunity to have the upper hand for a change, to truly be the older sister.



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Thayer
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13



DSaff wrote:


Thayer wrote:
I was struck during these chapters by how much of an enabler to Maud's alcoholism Ginny truly has become. She describes herself as an "accomplice" to Maud and as "standing guard between her and the outside world, protecting her against giving herself away." Does she realize how much damage she is inflicting? I also found it alarming when she says she "coveted the intimacy of the secret."


I don't think Ginny realized that she was perpetuating the problem, at least not at first. She gets Maud's undivided attention, good or bad. Ginny is feeling important and needed, and I'm not sure she wants it to end.


It feels much more calculating to me. I just keep going back to her references of being a "captain" and "monitoring and directing." Sort of a Dr. Jekkyl & Mr. Hyde complex?
~~Dawn
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pigwidgeon
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13: Maud's anger

[ Edited ]

KxBurns wrote: I think pigwidgeon gives a great explanation of why Ginny feels responsible for Maud's situation, and I would add that part of Ginny's guilt comes from knowing that she and Clive have been neglecting Maud and excluding her for some time now. It must have been pretty shocking for Ginny to not notice her mother's descent until things had gotten so very bad.
I'm really interested to know why Ginny is the target of so much of Maud's rage. Is it because Ginny's an easy target, or the less-favored child, or competition for Clive's attention? Or something else?


Thanks for the compliment! I think Ginny is the target of Maud's rage for ALL of the reasons you stated above.

She IS an easy target. Ginny is the most readily available person when Maud descends to the angry stage. Also, regardless of some of the underlying reasons for the anger, it is often easier to unleash anger on someone you feel a close bond with, a family member or loved one. This is a sad, but common, turn of events. Because, one believes, the bond of love with a family member will sustain, through whatever trials, it is easier to lose control of that anger and direct it toward someone that, one thinks, can't turn their back on you no matter what. It is unfortunate, that some people treat their loved ones worse than they would treat a stranger. That familiarity, and love bond, is the reason.

She IS the less-favored child. Ginny is a second rate substitute for Vivi, in Maud's eyes. She has never been much like Maud, no matter how many times Maud tries to convince Ginny, and, I believe, herself, that she (Ginny) is worthy. I think, Maud resents the fact that Vivi has left, and that Ginny cannot give her the emotional reciprocation to the extent that Vivi could. What made me realize this, especially, was when Ginny and Clive returned from the conference and went straight to bed, even though Maud planned a special return dinner for them. It made her really realize what she was left with, two dedicated scientists, that put socialization and relationships last on their list of priorities.

She IS also competition for Clive's attention. I think Clive's attention has always been scarce, even though he used to attend functions with her and went away on at least one trip with her. We know this because she jokes, earlier in the book, that Clive married the attic and got her in tow (or something like that). Clive has less and less attention for her, as he descends into his own darkness, and I think, WANTS to have less to do with her after he sees the extent of her drinking problem. She blames Ginny because, Ginny gets any, and all, moments of attention that Clive has left to give. She is her own daughter, that is a betrayal to Maud.

I also agree that the are other reasons. Maud, clearly, has a lot of anger bottled up inside. When she gets going on a tirade, why not thrown in the kitchen sink. She possibly still blames Ginny for Vivi's fall, or Vivi leaving, or their inability to be a "normal" family.... she may consciously, or unconsciously, blame Ginny for many things that we, or even Ginny, doesn't know about.

Great question Karen! Food for thought....

Message Edited by pigwidgeon on 03-08-2008 04:10 PM
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KxBurns
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

[ Edited ]
I was just looking over the thread for chapter 1 and was reminded of Ginny's comment about having children: "But Vivi herself was still a child. She hadn't yet developed those womanly urges to hold her newborn, to feel and need their dependence, and to realise that that was what life was all about and nothing else mattered. Nor had I..."
 
We have to reconcile this observation by present-day Ginny with her response to Vivi's anguish over being unable to have children on the ridge walk, when she thinks: "It had seemed such a small price to pay for her life."
 
What do you think? Does it point to Ginny having agreed to Vivi's request?


Message Edited by KxBurns on 03-08-2008 04:17 PM
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13: Maud's anger



pigwidgeon wrote:

KxBurns wrote: I think pigwidgeon gives a great explanation of why Ginny feels responsible for Maud's situation, and I would add that part of Ginny's guilt comes from knowing that she and Clive have been neglecting Maud and excluding her for some time now. It must have been pretty shocking for Ginny to not notice her mother's descent until things had gotten so very bad.
I'm really interested to know why Ginny is the target of so much of Maud's rage. Is it because Ginny's an easy target, or the less-favored child, or competition for Clive's attention? Or something else?


Thanks for the compliment! I think Ginny is the target of Maud's rage for ALL of the reasons you stated above.

She IS an easy target. Ginny is the most readily available person when Maud descends to the angry stage. Also, regardless of some of the underlying reasons for the anger, it is often easier to unleash anger on someone you feel a close bond with, a family member or loved one. This is a sad, but common, turn of events. Because, one believes, the bond of love with a family member will sustain, through whatever trials, it is easier to lose control of that anger and direct it toward someone that, one thinks, can't turn their back on you no matter what. It is unfortunate, that some people treat their loved ones worse than they would treat a stranger. That familiarity, and love bond, is the reason.

She IS the less-favored child. Ginny is a second rate substitute for Vivi, in Maud's eyes. She has never been much like Maud, no matter how many times Maud tries to convince Ginny, and, I believe, herself, that she (Ginny) is worthy. I think, Maud resents the fact that Vivi has left, and that Ginny cannot give her the emotional reciprocation to the extent that Vivi could. What made me realize this, especially, was when Ginny and Clive returned from the conference and went straight to bed, even though Maud planned a special return dinner for them. It made her really realize what she was left with, two dedicated scientists, that put socialization and relationships last on their list of priorities.

She IS also competition for Clive's attention. I think Clive's attention has always been scarce, even though he used to attend functions with her and went away on at least one trip with her. We know this because she jokes, earlier in the book, that Clive married the attic and got her in tow (or something like that). Clive has less and less attention for her, as he descends into his own darkness, and I think, WANTS to have less to do with her after he sees the extent of her drinking problem. She blames Ginny because, Ginny gets any, and all, moments of attention that Clive has left to give. She is her own daughter, that is a betrayal to Maud.

I also agree that the are other reasons. Maud, clearly, has a lot of anger bottled up inside. When she gets going on a tirade, why not thrown in the kitchen sink. She possibly still blames Ginny for Vivi's fall, or Vivi leaving, or their inability to be a "normal" family.... she may consciously, or unconsciously, blame Ginny for many things that we, or even Ginny, doesn't know about.

Great question Karen! Food for thought....

Message Edited by pigwidgeon on 03-08-2008 04:10 PM

Ginny is  the person who went to her parents and suggested they let Vivi move away, which Maud could believe was the worst betrayal, because it caused Maud to lose her hold on Vivi forever. 
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Tarri
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13



KxBurns wrote:
Tarri wrote:
 
If I were Ginny, I definitely would not still be covering for my alcoholic mother 45 years after her death, if indeed that death was a tragic accident.   But I'm not sure that Ginny is not covering up for her or Clive's part in the fall down the stairs.  Because Ginny so respected her father, it surprises me somewhat that she is not proclaiming his goodness and Maud's problems.  I think that Ginny feels guilty, even if she is not at fault, that she could not save Maud in the end. 
 
 
Tarri, I wonder if Ginny continues to cover for Maud because she feels that keeping the secret both ennobles her and makes her superior to Vivi. I think she relishes the opportunity to have the upper hand for a change, to truly be the older sister.


Although I don't have personal experience dealing with an alcoholic, wouldn't Ginny be the classic enabler. 
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lmpmn
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

I find it interesting that after all our speculation on whether Ginny had anything to do with Maud's death, no one has pointed out the memory that came up to Ginny suddenly:
 
p. 113   "Then I remembered a promise I'd once made to Maud, after Vera died.  She'd made me promise I'd hit her over the head rather than let her die a death like Vera's.  She'd said, 'Ginny, I want to die quickly and with dignity.  I want you to remember that.'  I was sure that Maud would have applied 'dignity' to how she wanted to be seen conducting herself in life, too, and it was there that I knew I'd let her down."
 
I still don't know whether I believe Ginny had the slightest thing to do with Maud's death.  I really think it was a drunken fall--but Adams really makes us think, doesn't she?
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crazyasitsounds
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13



paula_02912 wrote:
Crazyasitsounds, your statement above made ask myself this question...Do you think that Vivi asked herto have her baby because she felt Ginny "owed" her?





I thought of that, too, but I couldn't think of anything that Ginny would have owed her for. Unless it's something we don't know about yet or something I'm missing because of my attachment to Ginny & her perspective on everything.
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Everyman
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Excellent post. I agree.

It's like meal that is all strong spices and no base food to balanced the spices against. We need some normal characters to balance the weirdness against; pure weirdness quickly palls. But we don't have any. There doesn't seem to be a single normal, healthy person in the whole story.


Oldesq wrote:
The problem with The Sister is that there is too much weirdness here. Every single encounter is fraught with weirdness and all of a different type. Ms. Adams seems to be setting us up for a grand climactic event, a denouement which the reader already fears is unlikely to satisfactorily resolve this world. Some novels are able to include a cast of quirky characters - Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil has already been mentioned or the denizens of the Pequod in Moby Dick. But in a successful book, these characters are mere window dressing that add a colorful depth to a well developed core story. However, the characters in these side stories can't carry their own baggage as they would sap energy from the main plot-- here, these extras are packed for a round the world tour:
  • Vera with her alcoholism or STD or whatever ended her life in indignity
  • Dr. Moyse with his card games, his creepy demeanor and relationship to the sisters
  • Is Bobby a furniture seller or thief? Was he acting at Ginny's direction or on his own?
  • Michael the gardener trying to worm himself into the main house and have Ginny in the potting shed
  • Miss Randal, the head of Lady Mary's, with her ideas on genetic disposition to felony
  • Mrs. Jefferson the rector's wife (p. 50, 133)('So it's moths then is it, Virginia', and "Each time, before she went, she tried to pin me with her small powerful eyes . . ." )
  • Rector Keane arguing free will versus determinism
  • Bernard the professor (true professional), the groper, the source of the challenge
  • Arthur's excessive enthusiasm, his reaction to lunch at Bulburrow Court, "he seemed extraordinarily appreciative to be with us, as if he'd won a golden ticket" (p. 116)

The Sister has used up the faith the reader has placed in the course of the narrative on several occasions We feel heartened that Michael is willing to care for Ginny and look after her even though no longer in her employ only to find out his true motive seems to be a real estate deal. We feel we know Maud, the over enthusiastic community volunteer who people turn to resolve their differences, who knows everyone in the village ---only to find she is really an abusive, violent, alcoholic recluse. We think we know the prestigious Bernard welcoming Ginny into the profession only to find he has other interests in Ginny. All these betrayals are more than this slim story can carry.

Oldesq




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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Peppermill wrote: I've noticed that at least one or two of the people who like this book seem to have completed it. I am reaching the point of asking if modern writing lends itself as well to this step-by-step analysis as earlier works. E.g., is today's author writing for readers that have different expectations about the pace of a book than earlier authors could assume?

Interesting point. We have to keep in mind that many earlier novels were written in serial form, so they were used to reading a few chapters a week or even a month and waiting for the next episode to come out. Also, readers would discuss the latest episodes over dinner parties and in coffeeshops, so that the books had to withstand this gradual scrutiny and maintain interest throughout.
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SweetReaderMA
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Chapter 10 had me questioning whether Ginny finding Maud in the disgraced state she was in and how she didn't know what time it was could have been the catalyst to Ginny becoming obsessed about time.

In Chapter 11, I thought that maybe the cannibalism might have been referring to the moths and maybe to Maud. Maud's drinking causing her "real" self to be eaten away.

In chapter 12, again the questioning about Ginny's view on the world. Vivien says, "Ginny, how I would love to have your cozy view on life, everything slots into place. You never question anything, do you?" (p. 130). I think Vivien is right and wrong about Ginny and the questioning. I don't think Ginny questions much about human life but I do think that as she follows in her father's footsteps she does question about the moth's life and maybe that is her way of dealing indirectly with her own life.
I get the sense that Vivien thinks that Ginny may have had a hand in Maud's death. If she does, could it be because of the bell tower incident?

"And I was the wretched bridge between them and the world. I felt liable." (p. 132) is the part that made me wonder if Ginny got tired of having to be the liaison between her family and the outside world and therefore withdrew into the house as she got older. The idea that Ginny doesn't think Vivien can shoulder pain so she must protect her from it is interesting because in my mind it takes a strong person to move away from their family at a young age and be on their own. What an ending to the chapter with Vivien asking Ginny to be a surrogate for her. It's interesting because if there is something not right mentally with Ginny why would Vivien ask her? I can't imagine Vivien asking Ginny this if she had doubts about her mental state or even if she really thought Ginny was capable of murdering Maud.
These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice... and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart. ~Gilbert Highet
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umlaut
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13

Chapter 11: Arthur and the Cannibals
- I thought it was interesting comparison between Cannibals & Alcoholism ... how alcohol is eating away Maud's characteristics. Just like Clive & Ginny have isolated Cannibal Moth, so has Ginny done same to her mom, to keep rest of the family *safe*
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ELee
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13: Maud's anger



pigwidgeon wrote:

Also, regardless of some of the underlying reasons for the anger, it is often easier to unleash anger on someone you feel a close bond with, a family member or loved one.

She IS the less-favored child. ...I think, Maud resents the fact that Vivi has left, and that Ginny cannot give her the emotional reciprocation to the extent that Vivi could.

She blames Ginny because, Ginny gets any, and all, moments of attention that Clive has left to give. She is her own daughter, that is a betrayal to Maud.

I also agree that the are other reasons. Maud, clearly, has a lot of anger bottled up inside. .... she may consciously, or unconsciously, blame Ginny for many things that we, or even Ginny, doesn't know about.


These are all excellent points.  I would only add that Maud may have additionally resented Ginny because of feeling a necessity to invest more of herself than she might otherwise, in an effort to create a "normal" family.  There would be a considerable "backlog" of resentment surfacing when she felt betrayed by Ginny.   
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kmensing
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Re: Chapters 10 through 13



KxBurns wrote:


kmensing wrote:

Ch. 10

Maud’s moved into the library & pretty much gone off the deep end. Alcoholic, obviously. Ginny takes responsibility. Why?

Ginny’s fear of losing time has been tracked back to this single event. Her mother asks for the time, Ginny tells her it’s 10:30 “in the morning”, and Maud lashes out at Ginny in total rage.


I think pidwidgeon gives a great explanation of why Ginny feels responsible for Maud's situation, and I would add that part of Ginny's guilt comes from knowing that she and Clive have been neglecting Maud and excluding her for some time now. It must have been pretty shocking for Ginny to not notice her mother's descent until things had gotten so very bad.
 
I'm really interested to know why Ginny is the target of so much of Maud's rage. Is it because Ginny's an easy target, or the less-favored child, or competition for Clive's attention? Or something else?
 
You make a great point about Ginny's fear of losing time! I see her resulting time paranoia as a fear of both internal and external consequences -- ending up like Maud, as well as inviting the wrath of others. Does that make sense?


This absolutely makes sense.  Another nagging question on my mind.....Was Ginny born with all these oddities?  Or are they a side affect of her upbringing?
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